WESTCHESTER COUNTY & HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING GUIDE

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Native American Wedding Vows

The rich and diverse cultures of the Native American tribes encompass many varied wedding customs, traditions and ceremonies. The Manataka American Indian Council is aware of more than 5,000 different ceremonies that were shared among the different Native American tribes.

One of these, the Rite of Seven Steps, includes beautiful Native American wedding vows coupled with symbolic movement and, in some cases, the exchange of gifts between the bride and groom.

According to the Manataka American Indian Council, the origins of this ceremony are traced to tribes in different parts of the continent and cannot be attributed to any one nation or language group.

With the kind permission of the Manataka American Indian Council and Native American Indian wedding coordinator Lee Standing Bear Moore, the following is an explanation of the Rite of Seven Steps and the Native American wedding vows that might be stated during the ceremony.

Both bride and groom take seven steps sunwise (clockwise) around the sacred fire. For each step taken, a vow is said by each. The groom makes one step forward and says a vow, and then the bride takes a step to join him and says her vow until one round around the fire is completed. Family and friends join hands in a circle around the fire.

A variation of the Rite of Seven Steps ceremony has the couple exchanging gifts after each step to signify each vow given. Example: kernels of corn represent fertility and growth, a feather stands for truth and loyalty, a stone stands for strength, solidarity and wisdom. The vows shown below are only an example of words that may be recited, however, you should consider writing your own vows.

GROOM STEP 1: O’ my beloved, our love has become firm by your walking one with me. Together we will share the responsibilities of the lodge, food and children. May the Creator bless noble children to share. May they live long.

BRIDE STEP 1: This is my commitment to you, my husband. Together we will share the responsibility of the home, food and children. I promise that I shall discharge all my share of the responsibilities for the welfare of the family and the children.

GROOM STEP 2: O’ my beloved, now you have walked with me the second step. May the Creator bless you. I will love you and you alone as my wife. I will fill your heart with strength and courage: this is my commitment and my pledge to you. May God protect the lodge and children.

BRIDE STEP 2: My husband, at all times I shall fill your heart with courage and strength. In your happiness I shall rejoice. May God bless you and our honorable lodge.

GROOM STEP 3: O my beloved, now since you have walked three steps with me, our wealth and prosperity will grow. May God bless us. May we educate our children and may they live long.

BRIDE STEP 3: My husband, I love you with single-minded devotion as my husband. I will treat all other men as my brothers. My devotion to you is pure and you are my joy. This is my commitment and pledge to you.

GROOM STEP 4: O’ my beloved, it is a great blessing that you have now walked four steps with me. May the Creator bless you. You have brought favor and sacredness in my life.

BRIDE STEP 4: O my husband, in all acts of righteousness, in material prosperity, in every form of enjoyment, and in those divine acts such as fire sacrifice, worship and charity, I promise you that I shall participate and I will always be with you.

GROOM STEP 5: O’ my beloved, now you have walked five steps with me. May the Creator make us prosperous. May the Creator bless us.

BRIDE STEP 5: O my husband, I will share both in your joys and sorrows. Your love will make me very happy.

GROOM STEP 6: O’ my beloved, by walking six steps with me, you have filled my heart with happiness. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace, time and time again. May the Creator bless you.

BRIDE STEP 6: My husband, the Creator blesses you. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace. I promise that I will always be with you.

GROOM STEP 7: O’ my beloved goddess, as you have walked the seven steps with me, our love and friendship have become inseparable and firm. We have experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely mine. I offer my total self to you. May our marriage last forever.

BRIDE STEP 7: My husband, by the law of the Creator, and the spirits of our honorable ancestors, I have become your wife. Whatever promises I gave you I have spoken them with a pure heart. All the spirits are witnesses to this fact. I shall never deceive you, nor will I let you down. I shall love you forever.

For more information on Native American weddings, please visit the Manataka American Indian Council wedding section.

If you are interested in having a Native American wedding, the Manataka American Indian Council provides wedding coordination services. Although American Indian spiritual elders are not available in all areas, they attempt to cover all 50 states.

About Lee Standing Bear Moore:

Born at the Bell Mission in California, Lee Standing Bear Moore is a Kituwah (Cherokee) storyteller, historian, author and lecturer. Standing Bear studied American Indian history and customs for more than 35 years. After being ordained in the Indian Church, Bear first began his long career of conducting wedding ceremonies at the sacred Manataka (Place of Peace).

During the late 1980’s, Standing Bear served as advisor and special liaison to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. A recently release documentary film titled, “The Story of Manataka” features Standing Bear. He is currently producing a collection of American Indian children stories scheduled for release next year.

Currently, Standing Bear is secretary and historian for the Manataka American Indian Council, a nonprofit, educational, cultural and religious organization with members in forty-five states and five foreign countries. MAIC sponsors a number of annual American Indian events including the “Full Circle Celebration of Native America” and “The Gathering at Manataka.” He also produces American Indian wedding ceremonies in locations across the country.

He has written articles for newsletters, magazines and newspapers and appeared on radio and television talk shows. Standing Bear is invited to present programs to schools, civic groups and churches on a regular basis. Moore of Hot Springs, Arkansas is a graduate of LaSalle University with degrees in business law and business administration. He is married (30 + years) with two daughters.

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